June 1, 2010

Bloggers force the German president to resign

Image credit: (flickr)

Image credit: (flickr)

The German head of state, federal president Horst Köhler, resigned on monday with a surprise announcement after being criticised for his remarks in a radio interview in which he appeared to be linking military deployments in Afghanistan with Germany’s economic interests. The last time a federal president resigned in Germany was 1969, Heinrich Lübke who coincidently was also a very bad public speaker. Never before has a president of the Federal Republic of Germany resigned with immediate effect.

Interesting about Mr. Köhler’s resignation is the role that the blogosphere played. The German blog reports that blogs contributed significantly to the criticism which led to the president’s decision. It is evident that the blogosphere becomes increasingly important for political publicity.

The main reason for Mr. Köhler’s resignation sees in the critical news coverage of the magazine ‘Der Spiegel’. The blogosphere however played a significant role in stirring up the debate leading to the news being picked up by Spiegel and other traditional media outlets as the Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s most respected newspapers, acknowledges today. The awkward passage from the interview was debated for several days throughout various blogs before the mainstream media eventually picked it up.

While the blogosphere is still as puzzled about these events as everyone else, a new debate emerges as Ursula von der Leyen (or short #zensursula) is discussed as potential successor for the presidential office. She is known for her radical views on ‘net politics’ particularly advocating internet censorship. It’s going to be interesting to see how much influence the blogosphere can have on the election of the new federal president.